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On Saturday April 22nd, from 8:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, as part of National Poetry Month, there will be a Community Marathon Reading of all Emily Dickinson’s poems, beginning with the four-line poem she inscribed into the first of her forty fascicle booklets and concluding with late poems she mailed to family and friends without retaining copies for herself. The penultimate poem reads:

That Love is all there is
Is all we know of Love,
It is enough, the freight should be
Proportioned to the groove.

Co-sponsored by the University at Buffalo SUNY Department of English and the Just Buffalo Literary Center , this event provides a wonderful opportunity for poetry enthusiasts from around the area to interact with each other and celebrate an American treasure, Emily Dickinson.

Throughout the day, readers can come and go. We anticipate a wide spectrum of members of the community to participate, from all walks of life, including students, high school teachers, ministers, actors, prize-winning poets, and leaders of the Buffalo business, education, and arts communities. 

Readers of all ages and abilities are invited to participate! Texts of all poems are provided. No experience necessary! To participate, join the reading circle where there is a free space and a copy of the poems (or a copy to share) and then read the next poem in the sequence when it is your turn. Readers may come and go at any time during the day.

This year, the entire reading will be videotaped and made available online for educational purposes. Teachers, students, and Dickinson enthusiasts will be able to go online, call up any Dickinson poem, and then hear one or more individuals reading that particular poem. (For sample readings, see Recorded Poems on this site!) Readers will be asked to sign a brief release granting permission.

8:00 a.m. Reading begins
1:00 to 1:30 Dickinson Comedy Improvs and shape-note singing of Dickinson poems
9:30 p.m. (or whenever we finish) closing celebration of poetry and Emily Dickinson

The marathon reading is free and open to the public.

To contribute or volunteer contact Cristanne Miller, Chair of the English Department, University at Buffalo or George DeTitta You do not need to register or contact anyone to participate. Just show up and join in the reading.

Acknowledgements The Marathon Reading of Emily Dickinson's poems is sponsored by the University at Buffalo Department of English and Just Buffalo Literary Center, with special thanks to George De Titta, Rick Coughlin and Security Credit Systems, Westminster Presbyterian Church, The Gourmet Store of Western New York, and Talking Leaves Books. Daguerreotype image of Emily Dickinson courtesy of the Amherst College Library Archives and Special Collections.

Please click on the link below to see photos from the first two Community Marathon Readings of Dickinson’s poetry and to hear community members singing a few Dickinson poems set to musical accompaniment, in 2013. After April 22, you can revisit the site to see photos from this year’s Community Reading and comment on the event.

Click here to view photos from the past two Community Marathon Readings

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